References to histochemistry are extensive for human limb muscles but occur less frequently in relation to vertebral muscle. Most vertebral muscle literature has been concerned with muscle fibre characteristics in the lumbar and thoracic spine, due in large part to the incidence of low back pain and idiopathic scoliosis. However few studies have investigated the histochemical composition of neck muscles in humans: and, to our knowledge, no previous study has examined the antagonistic longus colli and multifidus muscle pair. In addition, while age-related segmental degeneration is most prominent between C5 and C7, it is not known whether these osteoligamentous changes are paralleled by changes in muscle fibre ratio. Tissue blocks comprising muscle and bone from C5–C7 segments were harvested at autopsy from 16 subjects with ages ranging from 4 to 77 years. The prevertebral longus colli and postvertebral multifidus muscle pairs were randomly selected from one or other side in each subject. The tissue was frozen, sectioned and histochemically stained for myofibrillar adenosine triphosphatase. Analysis of muscle fibre types was performed by light microscopy. Wilcoxon paired t-tests were used to ascertain whether intramuscular and intermuscular differences in fibre composition were significant. In addition, correlation and regression analyses were used to determine whether fibre type proportions changed in either muscle with increasing age. The present study has revealed histochemical differences between longus colli and multifidus at the level of the C5–C7 vertebral segments. Multifidus comprises a significantly greater proportion of type I than type II fibres. Longus colli comprises a significantly greater proportion of type II fibres than multifidus. Further there were no changes in fibre type proportion in either muscle with increasing age. These observations suggest that longus colli responds equally to postural and phasic demands, whereas multifidus is predominantly postural. Also it would appear that age-related structural alterations in lower cervical segments are not paralleled by changes in muscle fibre ratio.